After shoulder surgery and a 14 month layoff, some wondered whether Andre Ward would have some ring rust when he finally stepped back in a boxing ring on Saturday night. If he did, then everyone between 160 and 175 pounds better watch out.
Ward looked better than ever and showed absolutely no signs of rust in absolutely dominating Edwin Rodriguez over 12 lopsided rounds to capture a wide unanimous decision.
Scores were 118-106, 117-109 and 116-108 all for the super middleweight champion.
Rodriguez came out at the bell and charged right at Ward. He tried to maul him on the inside and land big shots while denying the champion the space he likes to control the action. He was rarely able to land anything clean, but did apparently land a glancing blow to the face of referee Jack Reiss in the third round.
With the fighters brawling on the inside, Reiss attempted to force a break, but both guys continued throwing punches, one of which appeared glance off the side of the referee's face. He immediately called a halt to the action, took two points from both fighters for unsportsmanlike conduct, and recommended that each receive a fine for their transgression.
That was the most dramatic moment of the fight, and the pattern held with Ward using his power left-jab to control the action and open Rodriguez up for massive hooks to the head and body.
It was a completely one-sided affair, and it left little doubt that Ward, even making his first fight in over a year, remains firmly entrenched atop the 168 pound division.